Or, Be Careful What You Ask For
I remember a judge in Our Fair State giving me that warning twenty years ago, when I listened to my client and made a successful motion to appoint a receiver that wound up creating a first-class mess. But I never learn.
Case in point: my blogpost “Neri Do Well”, 3/15/12, wherein I asked Judge Halpern to explain why he let the petitioner off the hook for the 20% chop based on good-faith reliance. I said “In the wilderness of single instances, which is the basis of our law, any thread from which we can suspend a reasoned evaluation in aid of our clients, and the public generally, is to be welcomed.”
Oh boy, did Judge Buch throw the book at all of us, in 63 pages of well-chosen words, in Steven T. Waltner, 2014 T. C. Memo. 35, filed 2/27/14.
Steve is a frivolity merchant, taking his lead from the notorious Peter Hendrickson, author of the Protesters’ Bible, Cracking the Code: The Fascinating Truth About Taxation in America (2007).
In a fight over a Section 6702 $5K chop, Judge Buch uses up 20 pages in the procedural history of the slanging match between Steve and IRS; but whereas IRS cut out the slang when Judge Buch called them on it, Steve, like the Bunny of advertising fame, just kept on going and going and going.
Now generally (don’t you just love that word? Whenever I see it, I know about 250 pages of exceptions will follow) such stuff is disposed of via “Crain v. Commissioner, 737 F.2d 1417, 1417 (5th Cir. 1984) (‘We perceive no need to refute these arguments with somber reasoning and copious citation of precedent; to do so might suggest that these arguments have some colorable merit.’).” 2014 T. C. Memo. 35, at p. 22, footnote 6.
But Judge Buch is irked that Steve burned so many judicial hours. And Judge Buch clearly is no friend of Hendrickson. So because Steve is obviously a disciple of Hendrickson (and Judge Buch plows through Steve’s papers and produces a concordance of Steve and Hendrickson), “…a written opinion is warranted.” 2014 T. C. Memo. 35, at p. 23. And Judge Buch has a plenitude of somber reasoning and copious citations; you betcha!
Notwithstanding, however, anything otherwise or to the contrary set forth elsewhere herein, as my expensive colleagues say, Judge Buch takes up where I left off two years ago, and says what I meant better than I did.
“Judicial opinions are the ‘heart of the common law system’ and serve as ‘a critical component of what we understand to be the “law.”‘ Statutes and regulations provide simply an outline; judicial opinions fill in the details by providing the rule of law the court applied, the court’s rationale in applying that law, and the underlying facts.
“Judicial opinions serve many purposes: they assist attorneys in advising clients and preparing cases; they provide the lower court’s rationale when the appellate court must evaluate its decision; they inform the public of the court’s analysis; and they establish clear and articulate rules for the future.” 2014 T. C. Memo. 35, at pp. 24-25. (Footnote omitted).
I wish all judges would read and heed Judge Buch’s words. I know they’re overloaded often, and hearing the same claptrap endlessly would wear down the stoutest, but I for one agree with Tom Jefferson and our own Judge Mark V. Holmes (“…a decent respect for the opinions of informed mankind requires an explanation of why we believe our holding will not have a pernicious effect.” quoted in my blogpost “Gone Too Far”, 2/11/13).
A decent respect for the opinions of the informed (and the still uninformed seeking enlightenment) requires an explanation.
Well, Judge Buch has given me what I asked for. All 63 pages’ worth.